The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 5, 2012

Our View: Postal vision

The Joplin Globe

— Passage by the U.S. Senate of a bill designed to keep open rural post offices and spare mail processing centers likely could save the Springfield and Cape Girardeau processing centers from closure.

It could also keep post offices open in Avilla, Wentworth, Deerfield and Metz. For our Kansas readers, it provides post offices on the closure list in Crestline, Frontenac, Opolis and West Mineral with hope.

Both Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt voted in favor of the legislation. Now it’s up to the House to take up the matter. And, that’s where the bill could be disabled because there are some who see the postal service as more of a burden than a service.

Reed Anfinson, president of the National Newspaper Association, in a column about postal reform, says a clear-eyed vision based on a full understanding of the needs of all whom the postal service serves is needed.

“Postal management today has an impossible task, expected to accomplish business goals without the cost-controlling tools businesses have and expected to achieve government ends without federal support,” Anfinson writes.

“Congress owns this confusion. Only Congress can fix it, and it will continue to need to fine-tune its solutions as communications cultures change. No bill passed today will avoid the need for legislation in the future,” he writes.

Missouri’s McCaskill and Blunt have shown they understand what’s at stake.

“As the U.S. Postal Service continues to face serious fiscal problems, we need to consider all possible options before closing post offices and processing centers,” Blunt said. “Rural communities and small towns in Missouri and across the country rely heavily on the U.S. Postal Service every day and deserve to have their voices heard throughout the process.”

The Senate bill, however, will only provide short-term financial relief to the postal service by returning $11 billion in overpayments to federal pension funds. It would prohibit the postal service from closing post offices in the next year.

And, then what? Are we back in the same place we find ourselves now?

Anfinson has it right in his call for solutions that provide a vision of the needs of all the postal customers — not just the senders.

Closing small post offices and shutting down Saturday delivery may seem like a solution to some who would like to derail the Senate bill.

We view it as shortsighted.

We agree with Anfinson in his call for forming a vision of the postal service in the future.